California drought highlights need for genetic engineering of crops

In this time of unprecedented drought, much attention has been focused on the use of water for farms to grow our food. As farmers are forced to deal with markedly less water, one promising technology that is already serving as a significant solution to reduce water use is biotechnology, or the science of genetic engineering.

The future of drought-tolerant plants and crops due to genetic engineering show vast promise for California farmers and our state.

Genetic engineering has been used for nearly two decades to grow varieties of crops that resist diseases and insects, require fewer pesticides and take less land and water to grow. The process of genetic engineering involves insertion of certain beneficial characteristics, traits or genes into the DNA of a plant.

Much of the cutting-edge research on drought-resistant crops is happening right in California. Our University of California campuses throughout the state are leading the country in the field of biotechnology.

For instance, breakthrough research under development by UC Riverside plant-cell biologists includes the insertion of a new piece of genetic code into tomatoes and other plants that effectively tricks the plants into tolerating drought conditions. This new genetic code keeps the stomata – the part of the plant that lets carbon dioxide in and oxygen out – closed to keep the plant from losing water. Even after 12 days with no water, these genetically engineered plants were able to recover after being rewatered.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Genetic engineering helps plants survive in drought

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